Every once in a while, I have one of those pastoral fails – those moments when I say something that ends up sounding horribly thoughtless and makes me feel disappointed in myself. Last week, I was talking to a new mom about the struggles of those first weeks of new motherhood. I was bemoaning how when my mom left two weeks after my first child was born, I cried for hours, not knowing how to raise a child without her help. Only hours later did I remember that this person’s mom died many years ago, and how insensitive my story sounded in hindsight.
Motherhood is a bit of a minefield. Some of us are extremely fortunate to have awesome moms and wonderful relationships with those moms. Some of us have more strained relationships, others of us have cutoff relationships, some had negligent or hurtful mothers, and many are still grieving our mothers who have passed. Meanwhile, some of us have had amazing experiences being moms ourselves, while others have longed to have children or have lost pregnancies or children. Motherhood is so complicated that I sometimes find myself caught off guard by my own unexpected emotional response to motherhood.
For a priest, that is why I dread Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day is a day where I feel split in half – where I both want to honor the goodness and sacredness of motherhood, and I want to honor ways motherhood can be so painful. This year, I was blessed by a friend who wrote about how to honor the tensions we find on Mother’s Day. I leave with you a prayer she references found in Women’s Uncommon Prayers, written by the Reverend Leslie Nipps. May your Mother’s Day find the balance I long for you to find.
On this Mother’s Day, we give thanks to God for the divine gift of motherhood in all its diverse forms. Let us pray for all the mothers among us today; for our own mothers, those living and those who have passed away; for the mothers that loved us and those who feel short of loving us fully; for all who hope to be mothers someday and for those whose hope to have children has been frustrated; for all mothers who have lost children; for all women and men who have mothered others in any way—those who have been our substitute mothers and we who have done so for those in need; and for the earth that bore us and provides us with our sustenance. We pray this all in the name of God, our great and loving Mother. Amen. (p. 364)